January 14th, 2016

Kaikoura Whale Country

For most of us in the tourism industry, the season has been mad! We need a quick break for a couple of days so we’re heading to Kaikoura. I never tire of that first glimpse of the Kaikoura Coast – beautiful green sea in the foreground and the deeper blue beyond where the whales roam.

Kaikoura sea2

It’s always an added bonus to arrive at your destination on a gorgeous summer’s day. Here’a a quiet, reflective moment when the last of the cobwebs are blown away.

Kaikoura Michael sea

We’ve noticed a trend with some high-end travellers to New Zealand of mixing and matching their accommodation. So rather than staying in premium lodges for their entire stay, they’re happy to include unique cottage stays where privacy and peace is pretty much guaranteed.  Here’s Kincaid Cottage in Kaikoura:

Kinkaid Cottage2

And it’s love at first sight!. Views of sheep-grazing pasture complete with a vegetable garden for guests to use….

Kincaid Cottage sheep

….and straight ahead, the beautiful Kaikoura Ranges that look spectacular in all 4 seasons.

Kinkaid Cottage views

I’m amazed by the generosity of the host who has provided freshly-laid eggs from the ‘Spice Girls’ (yes, that’s what the hens are called), freshly cut herbs and a fantastic range of basic pantry items. But it’s the flowers in every room of the cottage, that as a girly girl, I appreciate so much.

Kinkaid Cottage flowers

Super-king bed presented with care…

Kincaid Cottage bed

…now if I can just drag Michael away from his work which began 5 mins after we arrived..

Kincaid cottage Michael

…we’ll hop into the car, head into town pass the promenade, to the Coastal walk carpark. We’re doing a loop up around the hills then and as the tide’s going out, we’ll return via the beach below. Look at moi!

Kaikoura Pam

Going back down through the rocky shoreline reveals quite a few seals at close proximity. Remembering the rule of not getting too close or blocking their escape route, we return the friendly wave before passing on.

Kaikoura seal2

It’s only when you stop, that the exhaustion of the last few months really begin to seep in.  Can’t believe we collapsed into bed at 10.00pm  – no counting sheep tonight!

 

Happy Travelling.

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January 11th, 2016

How technology enhances New Zealand travel

How technology enhances New Zealand travel depends on how comfortable you are with updating your technical know-how. Remember the old days of travel? You went to a travel agency, looked at pretty brochures, chose a ‘package’, then crammed all the paperwork into your suitcase. Travel is much easier with the internet, ‘cloud’ and smart travel apps. We love them!

 

What has changed in travel?

The speed of making decisions and travel arrangement on the spot. We hear from hosts that travellers making a booking outside their property (via smart phone booking app) and walk in the next minute!

The choices in travel services is much larger. Even tiny travel operators can advertise their services to a worldwide audience. Those sometimes selecting the right one can be a challenge.

Social media is huge and news travels fast in this day and age. Travellers can express their opinions freely. Again, this can be sometime unfair and misleading.

 

How technology enhances New Zealand travel

  • Instant communication between people e.g. text messages, reminders etc.
  • the smart phone with travel booking apps, to maps, reviews etc.
  • no more paper! Download details into your phone or tablet or the latest travel apps.

 

Our favourite travel apps

 

TripCase – we love this travel planning and organising tool! You can start planning at home on your desktop and have all your travel details such as dates, reservation numbers and weather forecast, on your smart phone at your very finger tips. Flight delays while travelling? No problem, the new ETA is automatically updated and uploaded to the Tripcase. With Tripcase, we can upload our clients travel data out of our system in a matter of seconds. Guess what… most of our clients want it!

the tripcase app is technology helpful for travel

Booking.com – this booking engine has come a long way and is extremely easy to use either on your desktop, tablet or smart phone. They mainly list motel, hotels and motorcamps, and the selections are good. Not so good at making a lot of sense on a good travel itinerary where locations, distances and experiences actually need to work.

 

 

Air New Zealand app – you can order your latte in the Koru lounge or book your next flight through this smart app. I think for a small airline, Air NZ have always been at the top of their game with technology.

 

Thrifty Rental Car app – this is a classic example of a New Zealand operator going the extra mile by having petrol stations, food places and major sightseeing highlights listed on an app.

 

What is your favourite travel app? Please use the comments and us know!

 

Coromandel lookout

Wherever we go next with travel technology, let’s hope we still enjoy the basics in exploring the world, meeting new people, experiencing the unique.

Milford Sound Mariner2

Happy travelling!

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January 4th, 2016

Clothing for travel through New Zealand

New Zealand weather – what to expect

 

Clothing for travel through New Zealand should be chosen to cope with unpredictable weather patterns. New Zealand weather is famously subject to change within a matter of hours or less. We’re located between the Antarctic and the Equator and surrounded by vast oceans. A steady continental climate does not apply here. Unsettled weather doesn’t usually stay for too long. In fact, you can have rain in the morning…

Michael with umbrella - Clothing for travel in New Zealand

…and a warm sunny afternoon. You might get 4 seasons in one day!

Abel Tasman kayaking at nice weather conditions

 

Weather in different locations in New Zealand

 

Where you’re located in New Zealand, will play a big part. The far north of the North Island has subtropical weather during summer….

Weather in different locations in New Zealand - Coromandel lookout

….while the inland alpine areas of the South Island can be as cold as -10°C (14°F). The average New Zealand temperature decreases as you travel south. But generally we don’t extremes and this is great for travelling!

Queenstown aerial view from Skyline gondola

January and February are the warmest months and July is the coldest month. In summer, the average maximum temperature ranges between 20-30ºC (70-90°F) and in winter between 10-15ºC (50-60°F). See more details on the weather and season in New Zealand. It’s always good idea is ask your accommodation hosts about the local weather or  check out Metservice.com.  The Metservice 5 days forecasts are very helpful, especially if you have outdoor activities planned.

 

West Coast Waterfall2

 

What clothing should I pack for New Zealand?

 

So prepare for all weather conditions. Stick with the “onion system” i.e. 2-3 layers of clothing, you can peel off. See visuals here.

Dress for New Zealand - what clothing to pack for travelling

The Essentials – Clothing for travel through New Zealand

Essential on the list is a good rain jacket, a quality fleece beneath and a polypro or merino shirt. The good old ‘Swanndri’ has always been popular with Kiwi blokes. If you intend to hike/tramp, strong comfortable footwear is essential! If you need anything while in NZ just pop into a Kathmandu or MacPac shop. They’re the outdoor clothing specialists.

Shorts, good walking shoes and a warm jacket are always good

 

When is formal dress expected?

 

We’re pretty casual about dressing informally for restaurants and cafes. We make exceptions for weddings or an ‘occasion’. A smart standard will be required for more upmarket restaurants, shows and casinos. Pam, our resident blogger, insisted on my using this photo as proof that she can ditch the t-shirts and elastic waist trousers for a bit of ‘glam’.

Pam is dressing up for a formal occasion

Happy Travelling.

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December 27th, 2015

A New Zealand summer

Hey folks, we’re well and truly into the hazy days of a New Zealand summer! It’s time to relax among the vines and enjoy vineyard lunches. And in the Nelson/Tasman region, you’re never to far from them.

Vineyard lunch1

The Boxing Day sales are chocka full of people least able to afford another spend-up. “Hey guys”, I want to shout, pack a picnic lunch, grab your kids and head down to the most beautiful ocean imaginable. Great fishing down on the wharf. The sight of container ships being guided in, hold a special fascination for everyone.

Container ship

As the morning wears on, the kids begin to grizzle, so luckily there’s always the iconic “Mr Whippy” to put a smile back on their little faces. This little kid might miss out.

Miss Whippy

But the big kid always seems to get his ice-cream in record time.

Mr Whippy Truck

‘Mr Whippy does a roaring trade in the summer, as do the Paddle Boarding companies.  This is a great way of being interactive with the water and it’s a pretty safe option for older kids and adults when the weather is calm.

Paddleboarding2

But the coolest thing about paddle boarding is often that unexpected encounter. On Christmas day, these guys experienced were surrounded by curious Orcas feeding on stingrays. We saw this happen from the wharf and it was amazing.

Orca Encounter2

Soon comes the moment to pull away from the growing crowd of holidaymakers and make our way back to the Nelson centre for a walk along the beautiful and tranquil Mitai River.

Mitai river walk2

When you’re travelling through New Zealand, there’s always a park bench or table placed thoughtfully placed for a brief sit-down. These seats and tables are often dedicated to the memory of someone who loved the area when they were alive. This is Michael’s favourite, just an hour and half away at beautiful St Arnaud.

St Arnaud Nelson Lakes Michael sitting

So it’s back to Tahunanui Beach to catch a sunbeam before heading back to the office.

Tahunanui Beach3

 

Happy Travelling!

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December 17th, 2015

Maori cultural tours in New Zealand

Visitors to New Zealand tend to focus on the scenery and outdoor adventure. But the culture of ‘Aotearoa’ is a must-do for many. We often get asked “where can I find a Maori Cultural tour in New Zealand”? But what does that mean? Here’s an overview of different Maori culture experiences within the key regions visitors will most likely visit.

Maori Tour Kaikoura Sculpture2

Maori culture experiences in Kaikoura

 

Bay of Islands -Waitangi Treaty Grounds

We did the 50-min guided tour of viewing the major treasures at Waitangi and listening to an interesting commentary on the history of the Treaty. Many of the guides descend from signatories to the Treaty and that’s quite special. If you’re really time-strapped, there is a 35 min cultural performance, or you can combine the two. Also available is an evening Hangi and concert combo. View more details here.

 

Waipoua Kauri Forest

The Waipoua Maori tour is a different experience again and focused on the spiritual environment of the Waipoua Forest and it’s giant Kauri Trees. Believe me, these trees are giants! On selected tours, local guides will take you through a journey to discover nature’s evolutionary process. There is also a mythological interpretation of the forest from a Maori perspective. A twilight tour is available, although not suitable for infants. Good walking shoes are recommended. View more details here. View more details here

 

Auckland – War Memorial Museum

In my opinion, the Auckland War Memorial Museum is a must-see and not only for it’s neoclassical architecture.

Auckland War Memorial Museum2

It’s here you’ll see a the largest and most impressive collection of Maori treasures in the world! The entire Ground Floor is devoted to Maori history. You could spend hours on this level alone.

 

Rotorua – Mitai Tours & Cultural show

Although a large group tour, the Mitai tours are very popular and will introduce you to a spiritual and authentic journey into Maori culture where you’ll be treated to an authentic Hangi dinner and a cultural evening show. 

Mitai waka2

If you wish to extend your cultural experience, we recommend the Ohinemutu Tour which takes place in the late afternoon, before the Mitai tour. The Ohinemutu Tour is a guided walk through an historic Maori Village along the lakeside. View more details here.

 

 

Hawke’s Bay – visit local Marae with a private tour

Long Island Tours NZ provides 2 Maori tours – a group tour and a private tour. Accompanied by a Maori guide, visitors get to meet the Ngati Kahungunu people who will tell their stories of myths and legends. Visitors will receive a Maori welcome (Powhiri) onto the marae. The 2nd option is a private tour designed according to the visitors special cultural interests. After a spiritual welcome, you’ll get to speak directly with Maori and enjoy their music and sense of fun. On this tour you will gain a deeper understanding of the strong connection Maori have to the land and and their whakapapa (lineage). View more details here.

 

Whakatane – Mataatua Maori Marae Experience

The Mataatua Maori Marae experience is an interactive tour that begins by introducing Maori protocol in a welcoming environment.

Marae small tour

For 2 hours visitors get to use all senses, a definite highlight being an incredible atmospheric digital light-show in the meeting house which incorporates history, architecture, and technology. A Hangi option is also available.View more details here.

 

Kaikoura Maori Tours

This is a family operated small group tour with ‘heart’. It has an interactive element and it’s a lot of fun.

Maori Tour Kaikoura History lesson

The tour includes a comfortable drive to and around historical Maori locations, a spine-tingling welcome overlooking a beautiful Kaikoura vista, an introduction to flax weaving and a forest tour and commentary on traditional Maori medicine. A definite highlight is the generous refreshment stop at a private house with Maori hosts. It’s heart-warming stuff with plenty of song. View more details here.

 

Christchurch

Ko Tane is the South Island’s only Maori cultural performance and Hangi.  On this tour, visitors will get a unique snapshot into the way of life of the South Island Ngai Tahu Maori people before the arrival of the Europeans. This is an interactive tour where men are invited to join the haka and the women, the poi dance. One of the tour options includes a hangi. View more details here.

 

 

Queenstown

Kiwi Haka Queenstown  consists of a Maori Cultural Show performed  at the top of the gondola overlooking Queenstown. You’ll be taken on a journey of mythical legends and given a brief view into a world of Maori spirituality and history as  shown through traditional song & dance, haka and poi display. View more details here.

 

 

Important to know!:

If you want a truly authentic Maori experience with a private guide, the prices will be significantly higher than the tours providing a ‘taster’ for the mass market. An in-depth Maori experience often takes place at smaller local Maraes found throughout New Zealand. Often your accommodation hosts will be able to point them out and get you access to the tribe and one of its representatives to arrange a more traditional and personalised experience.

 

Happy travelling!

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